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Old 10-29-2008, 10:57 AM
 
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I'm looking for links/information on making my home a bit more efficient. I live in Berewick/KB Homes, so any data specific to this area would be appreciated.
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Mint Hill, NC
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Energy Star efficiency relates to the efficiency rating of each appliance in your home. There are other factors to energy efficiency however, such as insulation values, well sealed windows, age of A/c or heat units, etc. Home Depot or Lowe's would be good places to find the Energy Star efficiency info - take a list of your current appliances, makes and models, so that you have something to compare to. If you are looking for a broader efficiency evaluation, I believe that Duke Power will provide a free evaluation of your homes energy efficiency and provide recommendations for improving that efficiency.
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:45 AM
 
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Energy Star isn't that much related to energy efficient. Like ellemaew said good insulation is key. It helps both heating and cooling. Sealing up cracks and gaps is just as important including around electrical outlets on exterior walls. On a windy night take a piece of incense and scan the exterior walls and windows checking for drafts.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Mint Hill, NC
769 posts, read 1,980,603 times
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Ok, this one's been rattling around in my brain for a while now...

Energy Star compliant refers to appliances energy compliance, and although I'm not familiar with Berewick, from the other threads I've seen about it it's a fairly new subdivision, so the appliances should still have the Energy Star stickers on them. Of course the higher the rating the more efficient the appliance, although I don't believe that there is any appliance that is 100% efficient. While this is an important feature, it does not make your home - the building - more efficient. Home energy efficiency requirements are set at a state level and are typically part of each states building code. A home must meet those standards for the code year in which it was built - obviously the newer the home the more stringent those requirements are. Insulation is the biggest single contributing factor, and probably one of the hardest to change, at least in the walls. The higher the R value the greater the insulating ability. However, the thickness of the insulation also increases at the high R values, so unless the builder did a super framing job instead of the standard 2x4 framing there is still a limit to what you can accomplish there.

There are a lot of little things that you can do that can add up to a significant improvement in energy efficiency - have light cutting shades for your windows during the summer, plant deciduous trees that will provide shade to the house during the summer but let the light hit it during the winter, set your water heater temp lower, make sure you have weather strips on your external doors.... If you go to the Energy Star site - Home : ENERGY STAR you can find all kinds of things, including home energy audits, with a do-it-yourself option.
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:39 AM
 
45 posts, read 96,185 times
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Thanks for the great advice, I'm following up on all of it. I do feel drafts in too many places, especially around the windows, so I'll try the incense and see what that shows.

Regarding the insulation, the exterior walls a quite a bit colder than the interior walls, more than I would expect. This is to the point where I was thinking about cutting a slice of drywall near the ceiling in one of the spare rooms to see what kind of insulation was used. Any thoughts on that approach?

My use of the Energy Star was probably inappropriate, as I'm looking to make the entire home more efficient, as ellemaew noted. I'm starting with a good look at my windows. I'm not sure if their double hung or not, I'm doing some research to understand the difference between the windows.

Any other recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Mint Hill, NC
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Before you cut any holes in the wall that may be expensive to get patched up, check for a set of house plans. If you have an HOA they may have them, or if you can contact the builder they should still have a set as well, if the house is newer. I'm not familiar with the requirements here in Mecklenburg - or NC for that matter - but if there is a county building department they may have a set of the plans also. The house plans should have details about everything in the house - what type of insulation was used in the walls, what was used in the ceiling, etc. And your outside walls almost always will be colder because they are exposed directly to the outside air, which is cold this time of year. I expect that you would find in the summer that your exterior walls are warmer for the same reason, although typically that differential will be more noticeable in cold weather. The point of insulation is to cut down on the effects of the weather outside your house on the climate inside your house. In fact most interior house walls have a lot less, or no insulation, than exterior walls since they are not exposed to the outside air - unless they have been beefed up to be soundproof. The theory is that the climate in each room of the house varies insignificantly enough that insulating the interior walls heavily adds cost without providing any real benefit.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:20 AM
 
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Well the walls are probably an r13. All you can do is make sure there is insulation in there. You can't add more because compressing it makes it less effective. Like ellemaew said 2x4 lends itself to less R value unless you did spray foam on the whole exterior which is huge huge $$$$$$$.

I'd work on the drafts and around the windows. Find out if air is going in or out.

Installing ceiling fans and running them helps vs using A/C in the summer.
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Old 11-03-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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There are a couple houses being built a couple streets over from us, so I'm waiting till they get to the walls and walk by to see what they use.

Other than that, I am starting to chase down drafts and any holes. I do feel a slight draft by the windows, but small drafts multiplied by the number of windows we have has to add up to a meal or two at a decent restaurant. I don't know if it's the windows themselves or the frame or something else.

I was reading some of the link provided as well as some pages found online, I may get an audit done. I believe there are some folks who do it for free, although I don't want to sit through an upsell session, so I may just pay for it.

Also, I am definitely interested in plans, for this project as well as something showing the property lines. I'd like to put up a fence and don't want to intrude on my neighbors properties. If anyone has good info on where to get plans for the KB Homes in Berewick, please let me know.

Last edited by talktime; 11-03-2008 at 09:26 PM..
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:29 AM
 
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Window film will save you big! Up to 40% of the heat entering your house in the summer is through the windows! Window film can reject up to 80% of the sun's heat. So you could net at close to a 30% in increased efficiency in your home energy consumption!! For the cost there is nothing that can touch it!!
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Mint Hill, NC
769 posts, read 1,980,603 times
Reputation: 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by talktime View Post
There are a couple houses being built a couple streets over from us, so I'm waiting till they get to the walls and walk by to see what they use.

Other than that, I am starting to chase down drafts and any holes. I do feel a slight draft by the windows, but small drafts multiplied by the number of windows we have has to add up to a meal or two at a decent restaurant. I don't know if it's the windows themselves or the frame or something else.

I was reading some of the link provided as well as some pages found online, I may get an audit done. I believe there are some folks who do it for free, although I don't want to sit through an upsell session, so I may just pay for it.

Also, I am definitely interested in plans, for this project as well as something showing the property lines. I'd like to put up a fence and don't want to intrude on my neighbors properties. If anyone has good info on where to get plans for the KB Homes in Berewick, please let me know.
House plans won't show you your property lines, you'll need a parcel map for that, which should be available through the county Assessors office. There should be a fairly recent one done for the subdivision. There also should be markers at the corners of your lot - typically 3/4" - 1" capped iron pipe that would be stamped with the date of the survey and the surveyors license number. However, I am absolutely amazed at how often these are deemed unnecessary or in the way and taken out. If that has happened the only way to know for sure where your property line is is to have it surveyed again. Otherwise, it's up to you and your neighbor to figure out what you mutually agree is the property line. Do be aware however, that it is possible for one of you to "acquire" property from the other if the fence isn't actually on the property line.
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